We are told that Western/Christian and Muslim/Arab civilizations
are heading towards inevitable conflict. The demographics of the
West remain sluggish, while the population of the Muslim world
explodes, widening the cultural gap and all but guaranteeing the
outbreak of war. Leaving aside the media's sound and fury on this
issue, measured analysis shows another reality taking shape:
rapprochement between these two civilizations, benefiting from a
universal movement with roots in the Enlightenment.
The historical and geographical sweep of this book discredits
the notion of a specific Islamic demography. The range of fertility
among Muslim women, for example, is as varied as religious behavior
among Muslims in general. Whether agnostics, fundamentalist
Salafis, or al-Qaeda activists, Muslims are a diverse group that
prove the variety and individuality of Islam. Youssef Courbage and
Emmanuel Todd consider different degrees of literacy, patriarchy,
and defensive reactions among minority Muslim populations,
underscoring the spread of massive secularization throughout the
Arab and Muslim world.
In this regard, they argue, there is very little to distinguish
the evolution of Islam from the history of Christianity, especially
with Muslims now entering a global modernity. Sensitive to
demographic variables and their reflection of personal and social
truths, Courbage and Todd upend a dangerous meme: that we live in a
fractured world close to crisis, struggling with an epidemic of
closed cultures and minds made different by religion.
Subjects: History, Population Studies, Religion
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